Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More About Mac

MacIntyre was in Rochester this morning for the start of the Amerks' training camp, but it was short-lived, as he was called off the ice and informed he had been claimed off waivers by the Oilers. Like I had said earlier, Edmonton has a game tonight; they're playing right now, but I tuned in to see that he's not in the line-up tonight.

Earlier in the day, Oilers' assistant general manager Kevin Prendergast spoke about the acquisition. The full audio clip is available on the Edmonton site, but I'll pull a few quotes from it:
"He's big, and it's no knock on the guys that are here. They've done what we've asked them to do. We just felt that a guy like this on waivers, with his size and his background as far as the fighting goes and as far as being a deterrent, it wouldn't hurt to have a look at him. He's coming in tonight and he'll probably get an opportunity to play in Calgary on Friday night. . . We keep him on our roster, if not, we put him back on waivers and Florida have the first crack to take him."

Craig MacTavish (video available on the Oilers' site as well):
"We saw him play the other night. He skated O.K. I thought. The bottom line is that we need to be able to protect our skill. If you're going to be a good team you've got to protect the skill on your team, and a lot of our skill is attatched to competitive bodies, but they're smaller bodies and we've got to make sure that teams aren't feeling like they can take liberties with our skill."

Finally, a few quotes from MacIntyre himself. There's a full write-up about it over at Kevin Oklobzija's blog from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Good information on the Amerks, and you can find the specific entry here:
"It's kind of ironic because Edmonton, with Gretzky and Semenko, was my favorite team growing up. . . It's the chance of a lifetime."

So, we'll see. Friday night seems to be the date for MacIntyre to don an Oilers' sweater and try to secure a roster spot. If not, it could be back to Florida, and by extension, to Rochester.

Brynäs is off until Thursday, coming off of a 5-4 win last night. Through six games, they lead the whole of the Elitserien with 14 points.

You can expect a table update soon on the overseas players. I want to do the first wave of that before the Panthers' season opens on October 10th. Maybe a few more days to get a couple more games in. I'm still messing with some of the settings, so some things might look a bit off. Sorry about that.

MacIntyre Claimed Off Waivers

A few of the players that the Panthers cut from camp had to clear waivers before being assigned to Rochester, and one of them today was claimed.

Steve MacIntyre was picked up this afternoon by the Edmonton Oilers. With that, the tough guy the Panthers signed in the off-season is already a thing of the past, and the transaction will surely be a big disappointment to fans of the Amerks who were looking forward to seeing this guy go to work for them.

Nevertheless, MacIntyre has to stick with Edmonton. He didn't clear waivers, so he still cannot be assigned to the AHL without first winding up on waivers again. If the Oilers were to waive him and the Cats were able to reclaim him, Florida would then be entitled to loan him to any minor league club within thirty days without having to place him on, or have him clear waivers. Since waiver priority is determined by points percentages, the lower clubs get the first chance to claim. Florida has a higher waiver priority than the Oilers since the Oilers had a better record, so the fact that MacIntyre fell to Edmonton would, on the flipside, mean that the likelihood of the Panthers getting him back if he's waived again is pretty decent.

The Oilers are playing Calgary tonight, so I'll have some more stuff after, or during the game if they talk about it. I imagine he'll be in the Oilers' line-up tonight, and while it's a really weird move, since MacIntyre showed nothing of note to Edmonton, it's really a no-loss situation for them. If he actually sticks, good for him, and for the team. If not, they don't have to retain salary, just request waivers again and the Panthers could probably get him back. Hopefully no harm, no foul.

It's just that when you look at the games that the Panthers and Oilers played last week, Guillaume Lefebvre (played last year in the LNAH) looked very good. While MacIntyre's a lot bigger, MacIntyre just looked downright awful in the game.

Edmonton's addressing team toughness, much like the Panthers want to do. But, only time will tell if this lasts, and I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't.

Internet Fail..

The Panthers made some cuts, but the purpose of this post is actually just to point out that my internet is working again. I don't know why it disconnected in the first place, but after an hour "troubleshooting" on the phone with Comcast and scheduling an appointment, I just gave up on it. Comcast scheduled an appointment for Tuesday morning. Technically, it's now Tuesday morning, and the modem just lit up a little while ago. Fail.

But, success.

Panthers made some cuts. It's not really new now, and I'm sleepy, so this is from the article:
"SUNRISE, FL – Florida Panthers General Manager Jacques Martin announced today that the team has assigned six players to the Rochester Americans. The players include G Chris Beckford-Tseu, C David Brine, RW Mike Duco, LW Kenndal McArdle, RW Michal Repik and C Janis Sprukts.

With the moves, the Panthers training camp roster now stands at 27 players. The Rochester Americans open training camp on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 10 a.m."
I'll have a better post sometime tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Juniors Underway

Last night, the four players that were reassigned to their junior clubs out of Panthers training camp played their first games of the season. Adam Comrie, A.J. Jenks, Corey Syvret and Colby Robak each saw action in their first games.

For Adam Comrie, his return to action came in Sarnia as his Saginaw Spirit took on the Sting. Saginaw won the game 4-1, and Comrie picked up two assists on the game. Early on in the game, he took a high sticking minor, but both of his assists came on power play goals. The Spirit stayed on the road and played again tonight, dropping the game 6-2 against Sault Ste. Marie. The Greyhounds scored their 6 goals on only 19 shots. Comrie, meanwhile, was a -2 on the night.

A.J. Jenks returned to Plymouth and his return was uneventful. No points, no penalties and even in plus/minus. The Whalers did, however, win the game 5-2. Saturday night's game came against Guelph, but Jenks didn't play. None of the articles about the games mention any injuries, though.

Corey Syvret was also on the winning team in his first game back in the OHL. Guelph rolled Erie 5-1. Syvret, a defenseman, only added the credit for four penalty minutes to the scorer's sheet; a two minute minor for interference and a two minute minor for tripping in the third. Tonight, Guelph played the game against Plymouth. Syvret added an assist, and a roughing minor, as the Storm won again, 5-3.

The fourth junior player sent back was Colby Robak, and Robak was the only player of the four sent to the WHL. Robak, a defenseman for the Brandon Wheat Kings, had a goal and an assist in his season debut, but he finished a -1 and the Wheat Kings fell to Moose Jaw by a score of 6-3. Tonight, Robak was blank in all categories.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bouwmeester Radio Interview

Florida dressed a lot of players unlikely to make the big club this season against a large number of NHLers from the Flames. The Cats battled back after falling behind, but 6 unanswered Calgary goals put a cap on the game. A couple of guys had good games; Franklin MacDonald, one of nine defensemen dressed, picked up a pair of assists and a couple of shots, finishing even on the night, and Ville Peltonen, easily the Panthers' best player tonight, finished a -1, but he had a goal, three shots, two blocked shots, a takeaway and a hit. The Panthers still have two more games the next two days, but then they don't play again until October 6th, back home against the Islanders.

Before the game, Calgary's Fan 960 took time to interview Panthers' defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, touching on his thoughts on the team, future with the team, the Jokinen trade and the new coach.

Thoughts on the team:
"There's sort of a different attitude this year. We've been pretty positive. So far. Our defense is no question the best since I've been here and as a defenseman that's exciting. Hopefully you don't have to play much in your own end. Make those passes, get out of your end and go on offense. Things have been progressing along. It's really hard to tell this early but everyone has a positive attitude and things look good."

"Throughout the year you're gonna see what's going on and hopefully things are going to take a turn for the better. We'll see. Can't do anything 'til january anyway. So I'm not going to worry. Not making the playoffs, it's kinda tough to swallow every year. We should have a better team as long as we do the things we're supposed to."

Olli trade:
"Those things happen. It worked out pretty well. We got a couple of good, solid guys in return. Hopefully for him it works out too. It's one of those things that happens. There's always plenty of new faces."

And his thoughts on getting a ton of ice-time in the first game of the pre-season:
"You don't know what to expect the first time out. It's always good to jump in and have a bit of intensity. Earlier, I was a little shaky but it was a good game. Hopefully things better as you go along."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Brynäs Wins, Panthers Come Up Short

Brynäs played Timrå today and skated away with a 3-2 victory, but Jacob Markström sat this one out.. no injuries and nothing to do with his four goals against on Tuesday, just a night off. Nashville prospect Anders Lindbäck stopped 19 of 21 for Brynäs...

Tomas Vokoun started the game tonight for the Cats and at the midway point, Anderson was expected to come in and play the second half of the game. Unlike last night, the opening period was pretty even, and more importantly, the play looked a lot better for the most part. Shots against were down overall, and there were plenty of players standing out -- most for the right reasons.

Not quite halfway through the first period, the Oilers capitalized on a nasty giveaway by Radek Dvorak, and Tyler Spurgeon's unassisted goal put Edmonton on top. Shots through the first were fairly even, favoring the Oilers 10-8.

When the second period started, the Panthers brought good energy, but play progressively spiraled and the Cats were playing sloppy hockey, making errant passes and skating freely with no apparent awareness of their position on the ice. This took away any options for setting up plays, and after a terrible power play, ultimately led to two more poor penalties and a goal for the Oilers during a 5-on-3. The Panthers got a pair of power play chances later in the period, but they were unable to convert on their chances, although they had begun to play a tighter game.

Into the third, Florida was quietly shutting Edmonton's offense down. Play was far from poetic, but the Panthers slowly had tilted the ice and things started to go their way. An ugly collison in front of the net and a goal credited to Dvorak, and then into the final two minutes of the third, a shot flipped on the net by Stefan Meyer and Anthony Stewart, in the right place at the right time, there to use the body and deflect the puck past Garon, and in the final ten minutes of the period, the Panthers had clawed back to a tie.

Rory Fitzpatrick, who probably assured his name be taken off the list of NHL candidates tonight, took a penalty in overtime, but the Panthers killed it off and forced the game into a shootout.

The player that stood out the most tonight for Florida was Kamil Kreps. He was everywhere, in on every play, offensively, defensively.. he did it all, and he was rewarded as the third shooter in the shootout, preceded by Rostislav Olesz and Michael Frolik.

Into the shootout, Olesz came in and, moving to the backhand, tried to feed the puck through the five-hole, but Garon slammed the door shut. Sam Gagner followed with a beautiful goal to which Anderson had no chance, and then Michael Frolik took his chance in the shootout. The move was top-notch and Frolik had a beauty of his own. The Oilers' new acquisition, Gilbert Brule, rang his effort off the crossbar and the shootout was tied going into the final round. Kreps was up, and after getting Garon to bite on a move, he lost control of the puck and it slid away. The miss gave Pouliot the opportunity to win it, and a good backhand did just that.

So tonight was a great game for the Czechs - Kreps, Frolik and Olesz. Anthony Stewart played like a new man; and for his second game this pre-season, like a player that knows now is as good a chance as ever for him to make the right impression. Peter Aston made use of his modest ice time, blocking a few shots and taking a few of his own. Ellerby was impressive and Welch's play only helps his case for starting opening night.

Only Steve MacIntyre and Rory Fitzpatrick had games to truly forget. I think whatever (slim as it was) chance of them winning a spot is now completely out of reach. Skrastins and Murphy had rough spots as well, but were, for the most part, solid.

Cats Win in Shootout

If you'd only caught the start of the game, you'd be shocked to see that this one went to a shootout, but it certainly did.

Florida was all over the Oilers from the start, playing aggressive and pushing the Oilers back into their own zone constantly. The relentless attack led to an early 8-0 shot advantage for the Cats and 1-0 lead off a goal from Janis Sprukts. By the final minutes of the opening frame, shots were a ridiculously lopsided 16-1.

Tonight's game saw Chris Beckford-Tseu getting the start, and despite the inconsistent play in front of him, he stayed sharp and did his job.

Physical play was rampant in this game as guys worked to make an impression, and the Cats picked up three fighting majors - two coming from Mike Duco. Both times Duco dropped the gloves, he went with Theo Peckham, the 6'2", 223 pound defenseman, and while Duco didn't come away on top, he held his own in the latter fight and helped bring the Panthers back into the game.

The Oilers' Guillaume Lefebvre picked up a double minor when he went after the agitator early in the second in between Duco's two fights, and late in the second, Lefebvre was mixing it up with Tanner Glass as Glass rushed to defend his teammate from a heavy hit.

It's only pre-season, but it's nice to see the guys sticking up for one another for a change.

So, scoring opened on the Sprukts goal with an assist going to Stefan Meyer and the Panthers forced the Oilers' netminder, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to play a great game to keep them in it, but he proved equal to the task.

As the period wound down, the Panthers took a couple of penalties in succession, pushing themselves down to a 5-on-3 and they hung on only long enough to to kill one of the two penalties before falling victim to the Oilers' power play.

The second period was statistically close, Edmonton outshooting the Panthers 10-8, but the two sides were both sloppy and the high-level of play from Florida had started to wane. The teams split chances, but the opportunities came in bunches to either side, as did penalties.

Shawn Matthias would give the Panthers the lead a little less than halfway through the period as he moved around the rear of the net to push the puck past Deslauriers, but only a couple minutes later, Matthias found himself stuck in the penalty box as the Oilers evened up the score on a power play.

Edmonton tilted the game in their direction after the goal and the Panthers simply hung on for the remainder of the second until the Glass/Lefebvre fight left Edmonton stuck with an extra two minutes that helped to take the wind out of the Oilers' sails.

More penalties came in the third, but shots were locked down to 4-5 in favour of the Oilers in the frame and not a minute into the overtime period, Richard Zednik got called for hooking. On the penalty kill, Keith Ballard stepped hard into Ales Hemsky, and Sheldon Souray immediately went after the small defenseman and ultimately leaving the game with misconducts and an instigator. The play saw a bit more than a minute of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, and at its conclusion, a Panther power play that would last until the clock wound down. No goals were scored and it was on to the shootout.

Nathan Horton shot first for the Panthers with a beautiful shot that was roofed over Deslauriers, but Hemsky followed with a goal of his own. Ville Peltonen skated next and this time, Deslauriers slammed the door and forced Ville to put the puck right into his glove. Rob Schremp then had the chance to give Edmonton their first glimpse of a lead in the game, and after a deke, he'd put the puck behind Beckford-Tseu and put the pressure on Cory Stillman.

Stillman wasted no time coming in and undressing the 24-year-old netminder and sliding the puck through the five-hole. The goal left Florida's chance for a win on Beckford-Tseu's shoulders, but Horcoff approached and missed the net. Deslauriers stopped Zednik's shot and Pisani missed the net, and then newly acquired Bryan McCabe skated in as the Cats' fifth shooter. The puck found the net, and gave the Panthers another shot at the win. Dustin Penner's attempt was turned aside by Beckford-Tseu, and the Panthers skated away with a 3-2 victory.

Last night's game was radio only, but I still think it's a safe bet to say that the group that played last night in Calgary played a much better, well-rounded and consistent hockey game than this group tonight. That said, this team went up with some of the Oilers' best players and ultimately came out on top.

The team that played in Calgary will get the nod tomorrow night as the Panthers again play the Oilers, and Brynäs is in action tomorrow as well, so check back sometime before the Panthers game tomorrow night for the final score from Sweden.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hockey's Back!

The Panthers pre-season has begun in Calgary against the Flames. It's been months since the Cats' 07-08 season ended, but the wait is finally over!

Tonight's game opened with Greg Campbell, Brett McLean and Radek Dvorak on the starting line. Bouwmeester and Cullimore started on defense, and Craig Anderson got the call in net with Beckford-Tseu as his backup.

Rostislav Olesz had played on a line with Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman through camp and the scrimmages - part of the team scheduled to play tomorrow night's game, but he was moved to play tonight.

David Booth, Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik were impressive on a line together; Frolik especially, getting his nose into play quite a bit and generating a few chances, including a breakaway that he created after stripping the puck from a Flame.

Weiss went four for eighteen on face-offs, winning only two of eight against Wayne Primeau and losing all four to Matthew Lombardi. Kreps won five of fifteen and Brett McLean won four of ten. Other face-offs were scattered among a handful of players.

Scoring opened in the second period off the stick of David Booth before a mid-period goal from the Flames evened things up, and a late goal put Calgary on top.

In the third, while the Cats struggled through a 10-1 shots against rally, Olesz, who had missed the net a few times prior, tied the game up again at two, and with a little less than four minutes to play, Jay Bouwmeester rushed in and put a backhand behind McElhinney.

Anthony Stewart picked up an assist on the Olesz goal and earned a statistical reward after playing all night like a man on a mission.

The team travels to Edmonton for games tomorrow night and Thursday night. It will be the group that sat this one out on the ice against the Oilers for the first game.

So while it's too early to tell who has won a roster spot, the ball has gotten rolling for guys like Michael Frolik. If he continues to perform like he has tonight, he may well play himself into the Panthers' lineup to start the season.

** Djurgårdens handed Markström his first loss of the season today, scoring four goals on thirty shots.

Monday, September 22, 2008

First Cuts

Adam Comrie, A.J. Jenks, Colby Robak and Corey Syvret were re-assigned to their junior clubs today.

Comrie is headed back to the OHL's Saginaw Spirit. The 18-year-old defenseman has played one full season to date in the Ontario Hockey League, putting up 28 points in 58 games. Saginaw, 1-1, is off until Friday night when they head to Sarnia to play the Sting.

A.J. Jenks returns to the Plymouth Whalers, two years removed from the J. Ross Robertson Cup, given to the Ontario Hockey League champion. Jenks' role and production increased significantly the following season, leading to his selection in this summer's entry draft. While the Whalers made the playoffs last season, they were swept in the first round by Peter DeBoer, Mike Duco and the Kitchener Rangers. Like Comrie, Jenks and his team are out of action until Friday night.

Robak is the only player of the four not playing in the OHL. I pulled this from the Wheat Kings' website as their top story:

"Fresh off a successful season opening weekend home
and home series sweep of the Regina Pats, the Brandon Wheat Kings have received
some welcome news from the Florida Panthers. The National Hockey League club has announced that 18-year old defenceman Colby Robak has been reassigned to the Wheat Kings. . . In 71 games with the Wheat Kings last season, Robak had six goals, 30 points and 25 minutes in penalties. . . The Wheat Kings expect the 6'3“ 200 lb. Gilbert Plains product back in Brandon Monday night."

Brandon takes on Moose Jaw Friday night.

Corey Syvret is back with the 1-0 Guelph Storm for his fourth season in the OHL. Syvret, like Comrie and Robak, is a defenseman. The Cats acquired the pick which was used to select Syvret in a trade with Anaheim for Ric Jackman in January of 2007.

Again, Friday night.

Tomorrow night is the first game of the pre-season for the Florida Panthers. The game begins at 9:00 PM here on the east coast as the Panthers take on the Calgary Flames. I'm not too hopeful that there will be a local radio broadcast, but the game will be live on Calgary's Fan 960.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Training Camp + More Markström

With two days and two scrimmages behind the Cats, defense has outweighed the offense. In the first day, Tanner Glass and Brady Calla scored the only two goals in the sixty minute scrimmage, while today, goals have come from Ville Peltonen, David Booth and Jassen Cullimore. Anthony Stewart added a late empty-net goal.

Tomorrow, the Panthers are scheduled only to have a morning practice and an off-ice workout, and then on Tuesday, they're off to Calgary, finally, for the first game of the pre-season.

Nathan Horton has played center both days with Cory Stillman and Rostislav Olesz on the wings. Booth and Weiss were kept together as two-thirds of the top line for the blue team with Zednik playing right wing. The two teams split the two games, each ultimately scoring three goals (2-0 white, 3-1 blue).

In Sweden, Jacob Markström led Brynäs against HV71 in a game that just ended a few minutes ago. HV71 had scored 11 goals in their two games coming into this evening (morning, here) but they got off to a rough start tonight, taking four minor penalties in the first period and being outshot by Brynäs 9-8.

The game, played in front of 6,893, was scoreless until close to eight minutes in to the second period when Brynäs put one home and took the lead. They would score again on their next shot, though it didn't come for another 3-and-a-half minutes. HV71 left the period with only four shots on goal, Markström having only faced twelve through two periods.

HV71 came out flying to start the third, throwing two shots on net in the opening minute and picking up a goal at 1:15 of the period. Markström fought off five shots in the next 90 seconds before Brynäs took a tripping penalty. Two more shots were turned aside by Markström on the following power play and thirty seconds after it had expired, Brynäs was shorthanded once again. Within six minutes of the third period, shots were 11-0 HV71.

The pace slowed a bit when HV71's Andreas Falk was called for cross checking at 7:54, but the home team's domination of the period did not -- Brynäs did not pick up a shot on goal in the third until the sixteen-minute mark. As time wound down and desperation set in, HV71 threw everything that they had at Markström, firing three shots on target in eighteen seconds before watching Brynäs' Jonathan Granström put the icing on the cake with an empty netter.

Brynäs held on to win the game, 3-1. Markström made 27 saves on 28 shots -- 16 of which came in the final frame.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rochester Americans Radio Show

Starting Monday, October 6, WYSL 1040-AM in Rochester will begin a weekly radio show focusing on the AHL's Rochester Americans and the Rochester Knighthawks of the NLL.

"The hour-long program will feature interviews with Amerks’ and Knighthawks’
players, coaches and staff, and cover news and notes from the AHL and National
Lacrosse League. Go to Amerks.com and Knighthawks.net for a full lineup of
guests each week. If you miss a show, you can access the podcast on
The program begins at 6:30 PM and runs for an hour and the station does stream live online, so you can listen live at wysl1040.com. The Amerks' play their first regular season game on October 10th, at home, against the Syracuse Crunch. Players will be competing for roster spots with the Florida Panthers all week in training camp and as the pre-season picks up, so neither team has a finalzied roster just yet.

Speaking of rosters, Jassen Cullimore, the defenseman the Cats picked up late in October last year when injuries piled up, has returned to the team on a tryout basis. He was released as an unrestricted free agent when his contract expired over the summer but has since gone unsigned. The problem remains that the Panthers have eight defensemen that are waiver eligible and Cully would make nine, unless he were to accept a two-way contract to play with the Amerks and come up should injuries strike.

It would be nice to have the big veteran back for another season, though. He worked his way into Panthers' fans favor quickly with his responsible defense and hard work.

The Brandon Wheat Kings open their season tonight without Robak, who is attending Panthers training camp. Corey Syvret (Guelph, OHL) will also miss his team's season opener for Cats camp.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Markström Wins in Season Opener!

Facing nearly three times as many shots as his opponent, Jacob Markström held together a remarkable composure as Brynäs hung on against Färjestad Thursday evening.

Brynäs opened the scoring in the first period, though Färjestad generated great chances early, all of which Markström turned aside. The score held at 1-0 through one period.

Early in the second, Färjestad evened up the scoring with a strong shot off the stick of a wide-open Marcus Johansson, but the young netminder continued challenging shooters and held off the Färjestad onslaught until a power play goal as time expired. Not unlike the previous goal, there was little Markström could do to make the save.

In the third, Brynäs scored their second goal of the game, knotting things up at 2. It would hold through to sudden death overtime, and never flustered, Markström ensured Brynäs the chance to win, and soon after the overtime period began, it was over, Brynäs on top, 3-2.

Jacob Markström's debut as a starter didn't come without effort, but the 18-year-old made 34 saves on 36 shots. Brynäs as a whole could only muster 13, but they were effective and efficient in their shots.

Brynäs next plays on Sunday as they travel to Kinnarps Arena in Jönköping to take on the high-scoring HV71, who have 11 goals in their first two games of the season (6-2 win, 6-5 loss).

And not without note - Panthers' training camp opens tomorrow morning. The season is almost here!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Markström, Brynäs Ready to Go

Tomorrow night, Jacob Markström and Brynäs will open their 2008-2009 season with a home game against Farjestad. Gametime in Sweden is around 7PM. Here, that means the puck drops at 1PM.

Markström will be the starter for Brynäs this season, and his backup will be Anders Lindbäck (drafted by Nashville in 2008 in the seventh round). The two form a very young tandem - Markström is 18 years old, Lindbäck is 20. But while the duo is young and inexperienced, they will be relied upon heavily to help improve the team's 16-30-9 record from 2007-2008.

In June, Markström instantly became the Panthers' top goaltending prospect, bumping Tyler Plante (32nd overall in 2005) and David Shantz (37th overall in 2004) down the rankings. Dropping to the Panthers was a wonderful gift, and if Markström's development can continue smoothly, he has the potential to become a star goaltender in the NHL, and the best Swedish goaltender since Lundqvist joined the league in 2005. He's even drawn comparisons of skill to the late, great Pelle Lindbergh. Only time will tell, however, and this upcoming season will be a huge test for Jacob as he works to help lead Brynäs up in the Elitserien.

With Sweden ready to kick off their season, it's worth noting many of the European pro leagues have gotten underway. Within the Cats' system, there are six players in the Kontinental Hockey League. Most notable is young Evgeni Dadonov. Drafted 71st overall in 2007, Dadonov is now into his third season with Russia's Chelyabinsk Traktor. Through six games, Dadonov has recorded a pair of goals and an assist.

Vaclav Nedorost has been in the Czech Extraliga since 2004, but has twice had seasons shortened significantly following a 33 point, 48 game 2003-2004 campaign. With four games under his belt in 2008, the 26-year old center has three assists.

Also in the Czech Republic is former Amerk Martin Lojek. Lojek signed a contract this off-season with Trinec Ocelari, and his performance will be closely followed by the organization to see if he can develop more naturally playing in his home country.

The CHL leagues are getting underway this week, as well and though the Cats have only a couple of players between the OHL and the WHL, the list does hold promise with the Jacques-Martin-highly-praised Colby Robak as being the Panthers' top junior prospect for the upcoming season.

Lastly, college. Florida has many players scattered throughout the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and Hockey East.

Matt Rust finished sixth in scoring for the Michigan Wolverines in '07-'08, doing so as a freshman. Rust doesn't boast great size, but he's a hard-nosed, gritty forward who plays a strong two-way game, and as he gains experience, he stands to earn more and more ice time on a strong Michigan hockey team.

College hockey scheuldes all pick up around October 10th, so like the NHL, it's just around the corner.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Panthers Wrap Up Tournament

The Maple Leafs cruised to a 4-0 victory earlier tonight against the Panthers. David Shantz was in net again and he turned aside 35 of the Maple Leafs' 39 shots. Toronto also enjoyed nine power play opportunities - Florida killed off all but one, however they were 0-for-3 with their own PP chances.

With the tournament wrapped up, here are the final stats for players that picked up points (and goalies) from the Cats:

David Brine112
Mike Duco112
Shawn Matthias112
Adam Comrie101
Michael Frolik101
Kenndal McArdle101
Michal Repik101
Brady Calla011
Dan Collins011
Keaton Ellerby011
A.J. Jenks011

NameW-LSavesShotsSv. %
Tyler Plante0-12125.840
David Shantz1-15864.906

Over the three-game tournament, the Panthers went 2-for-14 on the power play - 14%. On the flip side, the mini-Stanleys had an 88% success rate when killing off penalties, shutting the opposition down 21 of 24 times.

Matthias, Brine and Calla each wore an 'A'.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

DucOWNED - Cats 5, Pens 2

Mike Duco delighted the Panthers' coaches and his fans from the Kitchener Rangers today, picking up a Gordie Howe hat trick this afternoon as the Panthers rolled to a 5-2 victory against the Baby Pens.

Duco threw in a second fight for good measure, helping to boost the Panthers' 56 PIM count in the game. Pittsburgh registered 38.

David Shantz started this time, and unlike yesterday, it was the Penguins scoring early. After outshooting the Pens 10-5 in the first, Florida headed into the second and immediately tied the game at 1 on the power play off the stick of Michal Repik.

Midway through the second period, Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead before Duco stepped up, stole the puck and, shorthanded, fed Kenndal McArdle the puck to knot the game at two. The Cats wouldn't look back, scoring late in the second and twice more in the third.

The Panthers were shorthanded nine times, but were a remarkable 9-for-9 on the penalty kill, including Duco's shortie. On the flip side, Florida went 1-for-5 on the power play. Through two games, the Panthers have gone 2-for-11 on the power play (18%) and have killed off 13 of 15 penalties (87%).

Through the first two games of the tournament, the Cats have put up 29 and 28 shots, holding the opposition to 25 each game. The Panthers' point leaders are Duco, Matthias and Brine, each with a goal and an assist. Tomorrow night the Panthers will take on the Maple Leafs' rookies at 7PM.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Senators 4, Panthers 2 [Rookie Tournament]

This afternoon, the Panthers' rookies took on the prospects from the Senators system in the first game of the rookie tournament in Kitchener. Adam Comrie and Shawn Matthias scored a goal apiece for the Cats, but the Senators put up four.

In net, Tyler Plante made 21 saves on 25 shots with two of the goals coming on Ottawa power plays. From what I've been able to tell from people who attended the game, the Panthers were held largely to perimeter shots, so despite outshooting Ottawa 29-25, the quality of shots was not a major factor.

Also picking up points for the Cats are Brady Calla, who assisted on Comrie's first period goal, and David Brine, who set up Matthias in the third to bring the game to within a goal.

A more detailed summary of the events is available at the Panthers' site, and you can access the story directly if you follow the post title above.

Tomorrow afternoon, they're back in action against the Penguins.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Keith Ballard Signs 6-Year Extension

This afternoon, the Panthers announced that Keith Ballard, the hard-hitting puck-mover acquired in the Jokinen deal in January, has signed a six-year contract extension. The release doesn't cite the financial terms of the deal, but according to The Canadian Press, the deal is reported to be worth $25.2M.

From the Panthers' release: "Keith is a talented, puck moving defenseman, that plays a robust style, who will play a pivotal role on our team for many years to come. . . Since we acquired Keith at the draft this year, it has always been a top priority to reach a long term extension with him. We are very pleased to have reached this agreement prior to the start of training camp and we are confident that he will play a major role in the future success of the Florida Panthers organization."

The signing brings three of the Panthers' top four under contract through at least the next three seasons, but Jacques Martin's commitment to building this core and keeping them together is certainly a positive direction to take.

It's also the second six year extension that has been handed out this offseason by JM. Back in June, Rostislav Olesz signed a six year deal worth $18.75M.

So while the days pass by and the season creeps closer, enjoy this fan tribute video to Keith Ballard from his Phoenix days.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Panthers Rookie Camp

Rookie camp is set to kick off on Friday in Kitchener, Ontario and over the course of the four day camp, some of the Panthers' top prospects will go head to head against some of the best players within the Senators, Penguins and Maple Leafs organizations.

The Panthers' roster for rookie camp was announced some time ago and it includes Shawn Matthias, Michael Frolík, Michal Řepík and Keaton Ellerby, along with other promising young players like Kenndal McArdle and Brady Calla.

Three of the Cats' 2008 draft choices are on the roster, including Colby Robak (round 2, 46th overall), Adam Comrie (round 3, 80th overall) and A.J. Jenks (round 4, 100th overall). Additionally, all three players that were signed this offseason by Jacques Martin to add system depth are on the roster -- LW Andrew Sweetland (17 points in 28 games with the University of Maine) defenseman Jason Garrison (14 points in 26 with the University of Minnesota-Duluth) and the big 20 year old defenseman from the Oshawa Generals, James DeLory, who put up 20 points in 55 games and added ten fights to his OHL total.

There are also two players signed to ATOs that will be on the Panthers' rookie camp roster - wingers David Jarram and Danick Bouchard.

Jarram, a native of Kitchener, saw time with the Rochester Americans last season after signing an ATO with the Amerks in April. He's not much of an offensive threat, but he's a high energy player that hits hard and sticks up for his teammates, and that includes a willingness to drop the gloves, doing so twice in his six games with Rochester and eleven times during the season between Oshawa and Saginaw of the OHL.

Bouchard is an undrafted 22-year old who put up 96 points in his last season with Shawnigan of the QMJHL. After playing in one game with the AHL's Albany River Rats, he joined the Texas Wildcatters of the ECHL. While he's not the biggest of players, he showed from the start that he can score at a professional level by registering 13 goals and 6 assists in his first 19 games. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely due to a broken leg. In August, the Florida Everblades signed Danick for the 2008-2009 season.

In goal for the Panthers, Tyler Plante and David Shantz. The Cats' first pick in the '08 Entry Draft, Jacob Markström, fully intends to finish his current contract with Brynäs in Sweden before deciding on his future with the Cats organization.

Lastly, rookie camp will feature the gritty Mike Duco. Duco has spent his junior career in Kitchener as a member of the hometown Rangers.

Panthers Six Pack

No, it's not a beer but, if you wanted to, you could always buy some with the money you'd save with the Panthers' new '6Pak' ticket plan.

The 6Pak gives you a ticket to six games of your choice, six parking passes (are they bringing back parking charges?), six combo meals at the BAC and six $5 gas vouchers. Plus, you get a voucher for $25 off a Panthers jersey. Ultimately, the terrace level is the cheapest at $180, but with the new addition of "Premium" games and the extra $25 for each of those games, this plan can save you a bit of money. If they are actually planning to charge for parking this year, then you'd really save some money.

All in all, it looks like a pretty good deal and although you're still paying for the gas and all with the $5 vouchers, you can think of it as already paid for and set aside. It's not much more than a few gallons, but if you don't use them right away, it's already paid for.

You can get more information, plus a look at the prices for the plan at each seating level on the Panthers' official website.

Friday, September 5, 2008

2008-2009 NHL/AHL Affiliations

Anaheim DucksIowa Chops
Atlanta ThrashersChicago Wolves
Boston BruinsProvidence Bruins
Buffalo SabresPortland Pirates
Calgary FlamesQuad City Flames
Carolina HurricanesAlbany River Rats
Chicago BlackhawksRockford IceHogs
Colorado AvalancheLake Erie Monsters
Columbus Blue JacketsSyracuse Crunch
Dallas StarsNONE
Detroit Red WingsGrand Rapids Griffins
Edmonton OilersSpringfield Falcons
Florida PanthersRochester Americans
Los Angeles KingsManchester Monarchs
Minnesota WildHouston Aeros
Montreal CanadiensHamilton Bulldogs
Nashville PredatorsMilwaukee Admirals
New Jersey DevilsLowell Devils
New York IslandersBridgeport Sound Tigers
New York RangersHartford Wolf Pack
Ottawa SenatorsBinghamton Senators
Philadelphia FlyersPhiladelphia Phantoms
Phoenix CoyotesSan Antonio Rampage
Pittsburgh PenguinsWilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
San Jose SharksWorcester Sharks
St. Louis BluesPeoria Rivermen
Tampa Bay LightningNorfolk Admirals
Toronto Maple LeafsToronto Marlies
Vancouver CanucksManitoba Moose
Washington CapitalsHershey Bears

Nothing much going on today, but Bryan McCabe made a phone appearance on 790 The Ticket with Syd Rosenberg. It's a good little radio bit. You can get to it from the Panthers' site, since the link won't come up here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reserves and Prospects Updates

Throughout the season, I'll pull up the stats on all the players within the Cats' system playing elsewhere so that it's all in one place and on one screen. I imagine I'll do this every month or two, depending on what's going on and if I've got the time.

The tables will be fairly similar to this one (Olesz!), only that the season column will be replaced with the names of the players, since the updates will be limited to the current season.

2004-2005Sparta Praha Cz. Extraliga47671312
2005-2006Florida PanthersNHL598132124
2006-2007*Rochester Americans*AHL*41234
2006-2007Florida PanthersNHL7511193028
2007-2008Florida PanthersNHL5614122616

Olesz was sent down during the '06-'07 season, and the demotion is in grey. Any player who is moved or traded will have his previous team in grey, along with an asterisk beside the team, league and season. Hopefully it's not too hard to see.

The BankAtlantic Center is also undergoing some fancy upgrades that will be great to see. They're adding some marquee and video boards around the entrance, upgrading the sound system and renewing the suites.

Anyway, within the division a couple of things happened today. Sort of. Atlanta signed the third overall pick from this past draft, Zach Bogosian, to his entry level contract today. There's a story about it at the Thrashers' site.

The other news I guess would be that former Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella has taken a position at TSN and according to the article, will be on the NHL on TSN panel for 60 games this season.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

DeBoer and the Marlins

This afternoon, Peter DeBoer joined Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton in the FSN booth in the top of the fifth inning during this afternoon's game between the Marlins and the Braves. With the pre-season just around the corner, the Panthers are making their mark and looking to gain some long-overdue exposure.

A lot of what DeBoer said has already been brought up in various articles and from speaking with fans of the Kitchener Rangers who dropped by the Panthers' message boards, but there's still no harm in hearing him remind us again that he plans on icing a team that will utilize speed, play aggressive and challenge the opposition to match their level.

Among the topics brought up - filling the void at captain. In an answer that is in no way surprising, he didn't give an answer. Only stating that he will be selective in choosing his captain and alternates. Like everyone, he's just itching to get to camp and it's glaringly apparent -- and it's such a welcome enthusiasm to this team.

On September 10th, the Panthers are kicking off their "Countdown to Opening Night". While this wouldn't fall within those boundaries, it's an extra appearance and it's a smart move to get him out there. From a Panthers release:

"The Countdown to Opening Night consists of a variety
of community, promotional, radio and television appearances that will commence
on Sept. 10 and continue for 31 days leading up to the club’s home opener on
Oct. 11 against Atlanta at 7 p.m. Florida Panthers players, coaches, front
office executives and broadcasters all will take part in this initiative, as the
Panthers prepare their fans for the start of the 2008-09 hockey season.

One of the events they've already announced will be on September 13th as the Marlins host the Washington Nationals. Nathan Horton will throw out the first pitch before the ballgame, which starts around 7:10 PM.

The full list is expected to be released some time this week.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

McCabe Deal Done

At long last, the deal to send Toronto Maple Leafs' defenseman Bryan McCabe to the Panthers is now official.

According to Toronto's Fan 590, Florida has sent 29-year old Mike Van Ryn north and in return, McCabe and a fourth-round pick in the 2010 entry draft are coming back to Florida. The Panthers will be happy to pick up a pick to soften the blow from the Kilger debacle. Ultimately, the Panthers will take on an additional $2.85M against the cap.

The deal was held up while the league reviewed the $2 million bonus that McCabe was due from the Maple Leafs.

The Panthers think they're getting an upgrade in McCabe, and for all of his faults, they are. By all accounts, it seems McCabe would benefit a great deal from getting out from under the Toronto microscope, a focus only magnified when he signed a big $29M contract over five seasons, putting him -- at the time -- a mere $450k shy of Chris Pronger's yearly hit and less than $1M under Scott Niedermayer's.

As for Van Ryn, the future was bright on deadline day in 2003 when the Panthers traded Valeri Bure and a conditional fifth round pick in 2004 to St. Louis for Ryno and he was solid from the start, scoring 37 points in each of his first two seasons with the club. However, wrist injuries plagued Van Ryn for the better part of the past two seasons, culminating in season-ending surgery only twenty games into the '07-'08 season. While he's a guy that loved his team and that everyone liked here in south Florida, no one really knows how his wrists will hold up this season.

It's a gamble for both sides, but now Toronto has the option to buy out Van Ryn's contract if he isn't back to form at a smaller cap hit and at a shorter duration -- or even trade him at the coming deadline for a pick depending on how they're doing. For Florida, Van Ryn's absence last season will just carry over and we'll replace his spot with McCabe and hope for his very best. The deal leaves Florida with McCabe for the next three seasons, and with it, his no-move clause.


Welcome to my Panthers blog! I've only seen a couple of these that are regularly updated, so I figured I'd jump in and add one of my own. I'm sure I'll touch on other things across the league, but first and foremost, the focus here will be about the Florida Panthers and the Cats' affiliates in the AHL and ECHL plus updates hopefully weekly about the team's prospects. So, I hope you like it.

I'll be experimenting with a bunch of the settings and the layout is probably going to change quite frequently because I'm pretty fickle. Sooner or later, I'll be happy with the overall appearance and the changes won't be so frequent.